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Guests at role model summit ask teens, ‘Where’s your money?’
by Michelle Zewin
Apr 21, 2008 | 825 views | 0 0 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print
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<a href=>Tribune/Tony Contini</a> Mike Walton, track athlete, speaks to Hug High students about attitudes and achieving your goals.
Medal-winning Olympians, world record holders, Super Bowl champions and beauty queens were only a handful of the impressive achievers found roaming local schools and detention centers last week in an effort to motivate the area’s youth.

And they have one thing to ask: where’s your money?

“We’re not here by accident,” track star Mike Walton said, pointing to his fellow speakers on stage. “We’re here because of hard work. You want to be a doctor, an athlete, whatever. We all want to be great things but we’re all here today because we made deposits.”

Walton, a graduate of the University of Southern California, will be trying out for the Beijing Olympics in June. He told about 80 Hug High School students on Friday that working to achieve one’s goals is like making a bank deposit: All they have to do is make deposits – whether it be practicing, studying or just hard work – and they will achieve their goals.

“When I’m in Beijing and I hear that gun go off, I’m going to be thinking one thing: ‘Do I have enough money in the bank?’ “ Walton said. “The answer is a resounding ‘Yes.’ I’ve been making deposits every day for as long as I can remember.”

That is why Walton asserts that out of the eight lanes on the Olympic track, he will be in one of them. And it all started with good decisions. Walton is just one of the athletes recruited to be a part of the eighth annual Role Model Summit. The summit’s goal is to enlighten youth to the knowledge that they are in control of their future and the choices they make determine their path.

“We take a message of hope and encouragement to children,” said Brian Bishop-Parise, an organizer of Role Model Summit. “We try to get them to understand that their decisions matter, that decisions determine your destiny.”

On hand to deliver that message this year were three-time Pro Bowler and Super Bowl champion Pete Boulware, 1996 Olympic bronze medalist swimmer Marianne Kriel, Miss Nevada Caleche Manos, NBA player David Wood, NFL twin brothers Guy and John Earle and kayaker Ruth Gordon, among others. For three days the speakers volunteered their time and toured schools and youth centers in an attempt to change lives for the better.

“They’re here not because they’re being paid but because they want to make a difference with these children,” Bishop-Parise said.

Franz Weber, who set four world speed records and was a six-time world speed skiing champion in the 1980s, was also on hand. Weber, who lives in the area, was especially glad that he could help his own neighbors.

“This is my community,” he said, speaking at the Jan Evans juvenile detention center in Reno. “We have a chance to talk to kids. It’s great to see that they are so receptive and can move forward from here.”

Bishop-Parise said the program mostly recruits top athletes because he finds they really interest the kids. One such athlete is former Wolf Pack star and now wide receiver for the Seattle Seahawks, Nate Burleson.

“How many people in here want to be great at something?” Burleson asked the Hug crowd.

Dozens of hands shot up.

“You can do whatever it is you want to do,” Burleson continued “But it starts with you.”

Burleson, too, wanted to be great at something. But he wasn’t always on track to play in the NFL. He said when he was younger he only did just enough to scrape by in school and sports. He didn’t put in any more effort than he had to. If he needed a C to pass, he got a C. If he needed to do 50 reps, he did 50 reps.

“And for a long time I was pretty average,” Burleson said. “But once I started to think and approach my life and job in an exceptional way, it started turning out that way.”

No longer average, in 2006 Burleson signed a seven-year $49 million contract with the Seattle Seahawks. And now he’s sharing his secret of success.

“You guys have to shoot for the moon,” Burleson said. “Don’t put a ceiling on your thoughts. Go out there and do it. Think, ‘I’m going to be the best.’ What’s the point of being average?”

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